“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25: 34-36
I’ve read this passage a hundred times…and I still don’t get it. In the practical sense, I mean. I get it, that we are to love our neighbor, make sure he’s got food and clothing, intrude on the walls of his prison (even the self-imposed prison) and visit. I think this means “visit” in the sense of “I’m going to walk into your mess, whether you created it yourself or someone else created it for you, and I’m going to shove the dog off the couch and sit down and get dog hair all over my clothes, and put my feet up on the only clean spot on the coffee table and just…sit here. We don’t have to say anything. Or we can say everything. Your choice. But I’m going to sit here until I know you’re OK–even just a little bit.” The thing is…we do those things for our FRIENDS. Our FAMILY. Our SAFE PEOPLE.
I’m pretty sure that’s not what He meant. I’m pretty sure He meant it in the “Hey, homeless guy on the street. Scoot over and let me share that cardboard box with you. Or better yet, come with me. Take my hand and come home, and walk into my mess, and shove the dog off the couch and get dog hair all over you, and put your feet up on the only clean spot on the coffee table…and let’s just sit here. Or we can talk. Your choice” sense. I’m not good at this. I don’t even invite people I KNOW over. It’s exhausting for me to even think about it. I think my problem is that I’m supposed to be the one without the mess. I assume that because I have a couch, and a dog, and a coffee table…that I should be the fixer. And I can’t fix. I can sit, and shove, and put my feet up, and listen…or not listen…but I can’t fix. It doesn’t say I have to though. All of those thing He mentions…those are tangible. Food, clothing, a visit…I can do those. We can do those. And WE, together, did this earlier this month.
Three weeks ago, we found out that our workers at the dump were not getting paid. We are not in charge of paying them, in fact we intentionally don’t get involved there–it’s very political and that’s not our place. We found out that because the workers weren’t getting paid, they weren’t able to buy school supplies for their children. Every penny they had was going to keeping food on the table. In this country, you simply cannot attend school without school supplies. They won’t let you in. And it’s more than just pencils and paper…it’s textbooks and workbooks and uniforms as well. Schools here provide NOTHING but a desk and a chair–and sometimes not even that. Our littlest ones were in trouble. THAT we can get involved in. We immediately put out the call via a Facebook campaign. We asked for $1500, to ensure that our children had what they needed. And you answered. Within less than a week, the money was there, the school supplies were purchased, and the little ones were back in school. The “least of these”, who through no fault of their own didn’t even have the most basic of supplies…are OK now. Because you all got involved. You shoved the dog off the couch, cleared off the coffee table and piled it with what they needed…and you never said a word.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40